Wies: Hooked on whimsy

ART REVIEW

December 19, 1991|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,Sun Art Critic

Artist-made furniture is quite the rage these days, whether it's Tom Miller's brightly painted "found" pieces or David Hess' chairs made of a plow. And now at Galerie Francoise we have what might be called Marvin Wies' barn-siding fish fetish furniture.

It's made of barn siding (or at least most of what's on view here is) and it's got a lot to do with fish. Like the "Sideboard with Fish Backsplash," which has doors in natural barn siding but carved in the shape of fish, and a backsplash also in the shape of a fish but painted in bright colors.

Or take the biggest, most outrageous piece in the show, the "Hall Stand with Fish." This one isn't made of barn siding but of various woods and has four enormous upright fish, which can serve as coat hangers and which have expressions that range from calculating to angry to worried to seductive . . . well, sort of. Underneath these is a fish with its mouth open wide that you can drop things in -- umbrellas, or maybe even galoshes. Anybody chronically hard up for conversation with arriving and/or departing guests needs this stand, because it is nothing if not a conversation piece.

Some of Wies' works are not furniture but pure sculpture, such as his "Fish-Eating Man on a Man-Eating Fish on a Reptile," a title which more or less describes the work, or his "How da Vinci Got His Bird to Fly," which cannot be described at all.

Some of Wies' things are much simpler and more strictly functional, such as his "Southwest Bookshelf" or "Bookshelf with Heart," either of which will go nicely with anything that goes nicely with barn siding.

The trouble with Wies' pieces is that one's not sure what he's getting at or indeed if he's getting at anything. Is this furniture with a message, or just fun furniture? At any rate it's fun, except ZTC when it doesn't come off, as with his "Primitive Box."

Complementing Wies' works are quilts by Adrien Rothschild and Sharron Bank. Bank's are small, obviously meant to hang, untraditional, more like works of pure art which can even suggest narrative ("Broken Promise"). Rothschild's are more like traditional quilts, but their designs are distinguished by her use of very subtly changing colors ("Silverainbow," "Floating Diamonds").

The show runs through Jan. 31 at Galerie Francoise, Green Spring Station, Falls and Joppa roads. Call (410) 337-2787.

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